On the 5th of April 2023, Israeli forces stormed the Al Aqsa mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, continuously assaulting and harassing unarmed Palestinians whilst they prayed during the month of Ramadan.
On Tuesday night, dozens of heavily armed Israeli officers raised the mosque preventing Palestinian worshippers from praying. The troops had beaten worshippers with batons, they fired tear gas into the prayer hall, where hundreds of worshippers were staying overnight to pray.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who is the spokesman for Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, said:
“Israel’s raid into Al Aqsa Mosque, its assault on worshippers, is a slap to recent US efforts which tried to create calm and stability during the month of Ramadan”
Palestinian witnesses spoke about how the Israeli forces used stun grenades and tear gas, causing injuries and suffocation to the worshippers.
Bakr Owaise, a 24-year-old student was detained.
“We were conducting Itikaf at Al Aqsa because it’s Ramadan. The army broke the upper windows of the mosque and began throwing stun grenades at us…. They made us lay on the ground and they handcuffed us one by one and took us all out. They kept swearing at us during this time. It was barbaric.”
However, the raids continued until the following morning. where the Israeli forces had once again assaulted and pushed the Palestinians out of the mosque, therefore, preventing them to pray. On Wednesday at least 400 Palestinians were arrested and remain in Israeli custody, according to Palestinian officials.
Arab League’s assistant secretary general said: “Palestinians need protection now”
The Arab League expressed its “surprise” at the recent statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the escalations in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Netanyahu recently said that Israeli forces were working to calm the situation following clashes between police and worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
“Israel is committed to maintaining freedom of worship, free access to all religions and the status quo and will not allow violent extremists to change that,”
In response, AL’s secretary general, Hossam Zaki, said during the council’s emergency meeting, adding that he “doesn’t believe” Netanyahu’s remarks and that he believed it was “quite the opposite.”
Palestine and Israel
The roots of this issue go back to the early 20th century when Jewish Zionists began moving to Palestine and purchasing land from Arab residents. The tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine grew, and violence erupted between the two groups. In 1947, the United Nations proposed a plan to partition Palestine into two separate states, one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan, but the Arab leadership rejected it, and violence continued.
Israel is expanding its territory and building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are considered illegal under international law. The Palestinians see these settlements as a major obstacle to peace and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
In recent years, there have been several attempts to broker peace, but all have failed. The Oslo Accords of 1993 created the Palestinian Authority, but the final status of the West Bank and Gaza was left unresolved. The peace talks that began in 2013 under the Obama administration also failed to produce a resolution.
In the meantime, the situation on the ground has become increasingly tense, with violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians and a lack of progress towards a peaceful resolution. The Israeli government’s recent decision to annex parts of the West Bank has further fuelled tensions and raised concerns about the future of the region.
Al Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest sites in Islam. It holds great significance to Muslims for several reasons:
Historical significance: According to Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was transported from the Great Mosque in Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque during his miraculous night journey known as Isra and Mi’raj. It was from there that he ascended to the heavens and received revelations from Allah SWT.
Religious significance: Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three most important mosques in Islam, along with the Great Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. It is believed that praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque is rewarded more than any other mosque except for the two holy mosques in Saudi Arabia.
Political significance: Al-Aqsa Mosque is also of great political significance to Muslims, particularly Palestinians, who view it as a symbol of their struggle for self-determination and independence.